The Dan Haren-Ervin Santana trade efforts have been upgraded to: “aggressive”

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We heard about the Angels’ efforts to unload Dan Haren and/or Ervin Santana before the team is required to exercise their 2013 options this week, but the heat on that was tepid at best. There was talk of the desire to trade them, but no real sense if anything could get done.

Ken Rosenthal, however, is bullish:

Be prepared for the Angels to make at least one trade this week. At this point, it will be an upset if they do not. The team, according to major league sources, is aggressively trying to move right-handers Dan Haren andErvin Santana before deciding on their respective — and expensive — club options for 2013.

Santana’s season was close to nightmarish. Haren was best by back trouble. Haren’s option is worth $15.5 million and includes a $3.5 million buyout, and he has no-trade protection for 12 teams. Santana’s option is worth $13 million and carries a $1 million buyout.

Whether these two move in the next couple of days — and what the Angels reap in return — could be an early signal as to how desperate teams are for pitching right now and just how stinkin’ rich free agents like Zack Greinke and Edwin Jackson are poised to become this winter.

Zack Cozart thinks the way the Rays have been using Sergio Romo is bad for baseball

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The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.

In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.

The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.

Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”

It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.

It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.